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North County San Diego 5ks + Half Marathons & More (2017-2018)

north county san diego half marathon 5k

October 2017 – April 2018

Throughout North County, you’ll see people outside. Walking, running, cycling, the weather beckons people out of their homes. But after a while, the same routines can become mundane, so we look to races to pump back the adrenaline.

North County hosts a variety of events that will spark your enthusiasm, have family fun, fund a charity, race to beat your best, or challenge what you thought your best could ever be!

North County Coastal (by date):

Jake’s Del Mar Beach Fun Run – October 28, 2017
Bike the Coast (Encinitas) – November 4th, 2017
Surfing Madonna Beach Run (Encinitas) – November 5, 2017
Susan G. Komen 3-Day (Del Mar) – November 17-19, 2017
Festival of Senior Miles (Oceanside) – November 22, 2017
Encinitas Turkey Trot – November 23, 2017
Oceanside Turkey Trot – November 23,2017
Carlsbad Marathon – January 13-14, 2018
Cardiff Kook Run – February 5, 2018
Coast to Crest (Del Mar) – March 4, 2018
Encinitas Half Marathon – March 4, 2018
La Jolla Half Marathon (Del Mar) – March 22, 2018
Carlsbad 5000 – March 24-25, 2018
Ironman Oceanside – April 7, 2018

North County Inland (by date):

Black Mountain Half Marathon (Rancho Penesquitos) – October 21, 2017
Giro di San Diego (Escondido) – October 22, 2017
Vista Beer Run – October 22, 2017
Lake Hodges Trail Fest (Escondido) – October 28, 2017
Jack O’Smash (Poway) – October 29, 2017
Walk to Restore Life (Rancho Santa Fe) – November 5, 2017
Gut Check Challenge (Poway) – November 11, 2017
Keepin’ It Rural (Elfin Forest) – December 3, 2017
Del Dios Trail Half Marathon (Escondido) – December 10, 2017
Dirty December Run (Poway) – December 16, 2017
San Diego 50 & Trail Marathon (Escondido) – January 13, 2018
San Pasqual Valley Half Marathon (Escondido) – February 17, 2018
The Sycamore Canyon Trail Races (Poway) – February 24, 2018
Carmel Valley 5k – March 11, 2018
XTERRA Black Mountain Trail – April 8, 2018

Black Mountain Half Marathon & 10k – October 21, 2017

Rancho Penesquitos

(10K, Half Marathon, Kids Race)

The Black Mountain Half Marathon is San Diego’s newest trail race. Racer’s will have great views of North County and experience gains of 400’-700’, depending on the course. The race has an uphill start and downhill finish with mostly dirt trail. The 10K is an out and back trail with 2 Aid stations (be prepared to self hydrate), and 2 major hills. The 50K is an out and back course with 2 major hills (one is 4.5 miles), and only 2 Aid stations (self hydration is a must!). Kids Races are offered for children 8 and under.

Giro di San Diego – October 22, 2017


(35/60/66/105 Mile Races, Mountain Bike Ride)

Italy comes to Southern California at the Giro di San Diego Gran Fondo. This two day festival is a celebration of cycling, food and fun. Five mass-start timed events are featured for both road and mountain bikers. There will also be a Bike and Fitness Expo throughout the races.

Based at Kit Carson Park in Escondido, the various race routes will head up towards Palomar Mountain. Choose from 35 mile, 60 mile, 66 mile or 105 mile races, or the Ninja Trail Quest Mountain Bike Course. Giro di San Diego is a chip timed course with KOM/QOM raffle prizes for all age categories, for specified climbs on the Gran Fondo course.

The festival starts early with breakfast – no racer rides hungry! The Expo will serve coffee, orange juice, muffins and bagels. Post-ride, feast, in true Italian tradition, with beer, wine, food, and live entertainment! This year Giro di San Diego is operating in support of the Challenged Athletes Foundation which supports American military personnel, veterans and first responders with permanent physical disabilities. The CAF program helps these individuals pursue,  or continue, active athletic lifestyles.


Mesa Grande Century – Gran Fondo Route: 105 miles in length with an elevation gain of 10,500 feet. KOM/QOM on Palomar Mountain Climb with seven feed and water stations along the way, as well as mechanical assistance and SAG vehicles.

Palomar Metric Century – Gran Fondo Route: 66 miles with an elevation gain of 7,700 feet, KOM/QOM on Palomar Mountain climb, four feed and water stations, mechanical assistance and SAG vehicles.

San Elijo Metric Century – Medio Fondo Route: 60 miles with an elevation gain/loss of 4,400 feet, 2 feed/water stations, mechanical assistance, SAG vehicles.

Rancho Santa Fe Loop – Piccolo Fondo: 35 miles, elevation gain/loss of 2500 feet, two water/feed stations, mechanical assistance, SAG vehicles.

Ninja Trail Quest Mountain Bike Route: Is a 27 mile timed event around Lake Hodges. Elevation gain of 1,700 feet, six feed water stations. Collect three totems (in any order) along the way.

Vista Beer Run – October 22, 2017


(5K, Half Marathon)

Vista Beer Run celebrates Vista’s microbrewery boom with its inaugural Vista Beer Run! Starting at Buena Vista Park, the route is part trail, and then loops through an Industrial Park, which is home to dozens of microbreweries. Back in Buena Vista Park the finish Expo will feature vendors, live music, food trucks, and 10 Vista Breweries. All finishers (21+), will receive their first beer free! Half Marathon Runners receive a custom hoodie and a custom bottle-opener finisher’s medal. 5k runners receive a tech t-shirt and a custom bottle opener finisher’s medal.

Jake’s Del Mar Beach Fun Run – October 28, 2017

Del Mar


Join Jake’s Del Mar for a Saturday morning Beach Fun Run! Benefitting the Friends of the Powerhouse, and The La Colonia Branch of The Boys & Girls Club of San Dieguito, the fun run starts at Jake’s and is just over 3 miles up and back the beach. Awards go to: first place men’s, women’s, oldest and youngest to finish, first with dog and first with stroller! All paid participants will receive a t-shirt, brunch buffet, and raffle tickets for a same-day drawing (extra raffle ticket if you bring your own water bottle).

Lake Hodges Trail Fest- October 28, 2017


(5K, 15K, 50K, Kids Fun Run)

The Lake Hodges Trail Fest has challenges for all ages and abilities. In Rancho Bernardo, the 50K has a turn by turn breakdown, with aid stations, restrooms on course, elevation and course map, and an 8.5 hour cut-off time. Participants who enjoy this deceptively challenging course will be rewarded with a unique race medal, technical t-shirt and additional schwag.

The Hunt for Hodgee 15K features a turn by turn breakdown, aid stations, restrooms on course and a course map. Participants receive a unique medal and technical t-shirt.

The Hunt for Hodgee 5K is a scenic out and back course with both single and doubletrack trails. The course features views of the lake and passes a small waterfall. No Aid stations are located on the course, so be sure to carry hydration and nutrition. Participants will receive a medal and technical t-shirt.

The Hunt for Hodgee Fun Run is an out and back 1 mile course with wide trails. Open to children 10 and under, families and strollers are welcome to join the kids as they run. This is a non-timed event and all participants receive a finishers medal.

Jack O’Smash – October 29, 2017


(5K, 10K, 1K Fun Run)

Jack O’Smash is a race and Family Fun Festival with routes for all levels and ages. The 5K and 10K out and back races start at Sportsplex USA, and feature water stations every 1.5-2 miles. Each participant receives a finisher’s medal, bib and timing chip, free pancake breakfast, and 1 free beer (21+).

After the race celebrate Fall with live music and an array of family activities. The Fall Festival includes: a Guinness World Record’s largest Pumpkin Plinko Board, a Punkin’ Chunkin’ Trebuchet, Bounce Houses, and much more!

Presented by the Kiwanis Club of Poway, proceeds of this event will benefit:

The Abraxas Transition Program which promotes practical life skills and independence for adults with developmental disabilities.

PUSD Special Education Foundation which offers mini grants to special education staff, educators and specialists, to fund curriculum, technology and sensory tools for educational enhancement.

Poway Kiwanis Club which serves Poway youth through scholarships and local programs.

Bike the Coast – November 4, 2017


(20/50/100 mile)

Bike the Coast is a 20 mile, 50 mile or 100 mile ride down the coast from Oceanside to Del Mar. Riders must obey all traffic laws while enjoying a tour of North County’s most beautiful views. Due to construction the shorter course legs had to be omitted this year, but the Expo at the end of the race is family friendly and will feature food, music and a beer garden (21+). This year Bike the Coast supports NOLAH, a San Diego based organization which helps to rebuild New Orleans after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

Surfing Madonna Beach Run – November 5, 2017


(5K, 10K, 15K, 1K Kids Fun Run)

Trying to set a world record in 2017 for Largest Beach Run, the Surfing Madonna is a great event for the whole family! Surfing Madonna is a low tide beach race, which begins at Moonlight Beach, in the heart of Encinitas. All routes head North up the coast with clearly marked turn around points and aid stations. Chip timed, the 5K must be completed within 2 hours, the 10K within 2 hours and 30 minutes, and the 15K within 2 hours and 45 minutes. Strollers allowed, no dogs.

All participants will receive a World Record race shirt, a finisher’s medal, and a sponsor goody bag. 1K participants will also receive a Surfing Madonna Coloring Book and a free meal at Old Spaghetti Factory.

A Maori Warrior Haka will send the racers on their way. Post race enjoy a guided Aloe Cool Down stretch, Snacks, Drinks and Free Massages. From 2pm-6pm there will be an After Party on Hwy 101, in downtown Encinitas. 

Walk to Restore Life – November 5, 2017

Rancho Santa Fe

(3K Walk)

The Cancer Angels of San Diego celebrate their 10 year anniversary at this year’s Walk to Restore Life. The Cancer Angels raise money to provide the basic necessities for Stage IV Cancer patients in the community.

The 3K walk is at the Bridges in Rancho Santa Fe, followed by Cocktails, Live Music, Silent Auction and Dinner from 3:30pm to 6:30pm.

Gut Check Challenge – November 11, 2017


(Obstacle Course)

Trail running and Strongman challenges, plus Boot Camp drills, you’ll find all of these at the Gut Check Challenge. Created by Joe Decker (Guinness World Record Holder, 2x Spartan Death Race Winner and US Veteran), the Gut Check is 3-4 hours over 6-9 miles from Lake Poway to Mount Woodson. Over the course expect to find bucket and sandbag carries, fell running, military calisthenics, and more. Registration is capped at at 50 participants, so if this sounds like your challenge, sign up early!

Susan G. Komen 3-Day – November 17-19, 2017

Del Mar

(60 mile 3-Day Walk)

Race teams and individuals gather over 3 days at Del Mar Fairgrounds to walk 60 miles in support of Breast Cancer Research. The Susan G. Komen 3-Day begins with an open ceremony which honors the loved ones who inspire participants to walk. The walk itself is 20 miles a day and fully supported, expect spectators, food and drink, safety crew and rides if needed. Walkers can also stay in the 3-Day Community, complete with pink tents, it is the ultimate glamping experience. The community boasts massage chairs, hot showers, and comforting meals for the 2-night sleepover. The third day ends in a Victory Walk, followed by a Closing Ceremony.

The Susan G. Komen 3-Day is a fundraising event. All walkers are responsible for their own fundraising commitment in order to participate (3-Day must agree to raise a minimum of $2,300 in order to walk, 20-mile walkers must agree to raise a minimum of $750 to walk).

Festival of Senior – November 22, 2017



Part of the Oceanside Turkey Trot, the Festival of Senior features events for those over the age of 65 (the most senior finisher was 95 years old!). Races include a 1 mile Fun Walk, 1 mile races by age, 1 mile wheelchair push, Assisted wheelchair push, 400m wheelchair push and the Walkers with Walkers 400m.

Family members are encouraged to participate free of charge.

Encinitas Turkey Trot & Food Drive – November 23, 2017


(5K, 10K)

What’s a better way to start your Thanksgiving, then raising money for the local food bank and enjoying a beautiful race along the coast with friends and family? The races begin under the Encinitas sign, off Hwy 101, and loop at the San Elijo State Beach Campgrounds.

The Encinitas Turkey Trot also hosts a Costume Contest. Following the 10K, trophies will be awarded to the top three Individual, Group and Kid participants that embody the spirit of the race (participants must be present to receive trophy).

Strollers encouraged. No dogs please.

PMCU O’Side Turkey Trot – November 23, 2017


(5K, 10K, Kids 1 mile)

Move your feet before you eat! The 12th Annual Pacific Marine Credit Union O’side Turkey Trot begins at the Oceanside Civic Center and follows the coast for a beautiful race backdrop. Bring the whole family and join this great holiday tradition. Costume contests (top 3 costumes will win $50 gift certificates to 333 Pacific), largest team competitions, kids races, and live entertainment are some of the things that make this race fun! All registered racers will receive, digital photos, finishing medals, t-shirts and timing. Walking strollers welcome on the 5K, running strollers welcome on the 10K.

When registering, choose your charity. $5 of your entrance fee can benefit: Oceanside School District, the Austin Bice Memorial Scholarship Fund, or the Move Your Feet Before You Eat Foundation.

Keepin’ It Rural – December 3, 2017

Elfin Forest

(5K, 10K, 1K Fun Run)

The Elfin Forest is a hidden sanctuary nestled in between north county coastal and inland cities. The Keepin’ It Rural race raises money to keep the area protected and “rural”. The 5K course is open to hikers and runners, while the 10K is runners-only. Both courses are chip timed with a 2 hour limit. All racers will receive a t-shirt and raffle ticket for special prizes.

On the 5K course expect 911 feet gains and single track dirt, rocky and sandy terrains.

On the 10K course expect 1,612 feet in gains with a single track dirt rock and sandy trail.

Kids can sign up for the 5K, or the 1K event (free with adult participant). There will also be carnival style games, prizes and giveaways.

For other non-racers the festival will have a Beer Garden courtesy of Alesmith and Bagby Brewery, Mimosas, Gourmet Food Trucks, coffee and snack for sale by Cafe Stoked, Massages courtesy of Ernie Villanueva and and a Vendor Expo

Del Dios Trail Half Marathon – December 10, 2017


(5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Kid Race)

The Del Dios Trail Half Marathon is San Diego’s fastest growing trail race with Lake Hodges views. The Half Marathon is great for all levels; a 2-Way Out and Back Course with mostly dirt and some single track trail, there are a few, but steep hills (482 feet in gains). The 10K is an Out and Back Course with 440 foot gains, great for all levels, there is only one aid station so be prepared to self hydrate. The 5K Course is also great for all levels, with an aid station the race will run on dirt trails and only have 44 ft gains. All races are chip-timed and participants will receive a t-shirt.

The Kids Dash is open to children 8 years and younger. $10 registration fee includes a Finisher’s Medal.

Dirty December Poker Run – December 16, 2017


(10K, Half Marathon)

The Dirty December Poker Run in Sycamore Canyon has a fun twist in its race: all racers must play 5 Card Poker by collecting cards along the race. Depending in the hand, racers will receive penalties or bonuses! The Half Marathon consists of two loops with approx 2,300 ft gain. The 10K course has one loop and approx 1,000ft gain. Both courses are cutoff at 3.5 hours.

All racers receive a t-shirt, finishers medal and special prize is awarded for best costume.


San Diego 50 & Trail Marathon – January 13th, 2018


(50 Mile, Trail Marathon)

Limited to 300 runners, the San Diego 50 & Trail Marathon snakes through San Pasqual Valley. The course features trails in San Dieguito River Park and Black Mountain Open Space Park, and is a mix of double track, single track, fire road and a small amount of paved running. Aid stations are every 4-6 miles, runners will be required to carry a minimum amount of hydration and use aid stations for supplementation. All participants will receive a long sleeve technical shirt and finishers will receive a unique medal.

Carlsbad Marathon – January 13-14, 2018


(Marathon, Half Marathon, Kids Race)

Presented by the Tri-City Medical Center, the Carlsbad Winter Marathon sets itself apart from other marathons, by providing a boutique-style event with emphasis on the runners. Ideal weather, a fully manned coastal course (with 26 volunteer stations), and continuous entertainment are only some of the factors that make this race unique. Participants will receive: a long sleeve technical shirt, virtual goody bag, finisher’s medal, mylar blanket, refreshments and more.

On Sunday, January 14, the full and half marathons follow an out and back course along the Pacific Ocean that begins and ends at the Shoppes of Carlsbad. The course is gently rolling and it’s highest elevation is 308 feet. Each mile features water stations with entertainment. The full marathon has a six hour limit based on chip time and is a qualifier for Boston. The half marathon has a 4.25 hour limit based on chip time.  Both races are also first in the Half Marathon Triple Crown Series. At the finish line find refreshments, a beer garden and live music to help celebrate!

On Saturday, January 13th, Legoland opens its gates early to host the Carlsbad Kids Marathon Mile. This family friendly event is good for all ages, allowing for participants to run, walk, skip, or even be pushed in a stroller! Each finisher receives an event t-shirt and a finisher’s medal. The finish line with have light refreshments and entertainment. At 10am the event will conclude and registered participants, ages 3-12, can enter Legoland Park and Sea Life Aquarium for FREE. Parents will also benefit with 50% off admission. (Space is limited, register early!)

Cardiff Kook Run – February 5th, 2018

Cardiff By the Sea

(5k, 10k, Costume Contest)

A Super Bowl Sunday tradition, the Cardiff Kook Run is a celebration of the beauty and fun of Cardiff. Starting under the Encinitas sign, the course is out and back and follows the coastline. The 10K features cash prizes for the top 3 finishers. The 5K Costume Contest features cash prizes for best costume (not based on race times). Proceeds from the race help to support the Cardiff School, Ada Harris Elementary, BSA of Encinitas, and Cardiff 101 Main Street.

San Pasqual Valley Half Marathon – February 17th, 2018


(Half Marathon, 10k)

The San Pasqual Valley Half Marathon takes runners through scenic Bandy Canyon. The Half Marathon is an out and back course that summits on top of Raptor Ridge, twice! The 10k is a mostly flat out and back course. Both courses are on 100% groomed dirt, single track trails. Aid stations are based on length of course, but be prepared to self-hydrate. Both Courses are great for all running levels, but if planning to do the half marathon prepare for the hills.

Sycamore Canyon Trail Races – February 24th, 2018


(100k Solo/Relay, 50k, Half Marathon)

The Sycamore Canyon Trail Races features a 100k, a 50k and a Half marathon. The 100k is a multiple loop course that can be run a solo Ultra, or as a relay team. Relays can be in 2 or 4 person combinations. The 100k and 50k follow a figure 8 lap course with several aid stations. Expect 1400’ elevation gains per loop. The Half Marathon course consists of two clockwise loops. All participants will receive a long sleeve tech shirt and finishers will receive medals. Top finishers will receive additional rewards.

Encinitas Half Marathon – March 4, 2018


(Half Marathon)

The Encinitas Half Marathon is a 13.1 mile tour through Encinitas, Leucadia and Solana Beach. This out and back course begins and ends at Moonlight Beach and has a 3 hour and 15 minute time limit (based on chip). The course has gently rolling hills, and one steep hill about 40 yards long. A great course for Elite racers and beginners, participants will receive: a finisher’s medal, soft Tech Tee, free breakfast (with Mexican Hot Chocolate), Encinitas Half Souvenir Mug, Sponsor Swag. Cash prizes will also be awarded to the top 5 overall male and female finishers.

Coast to Crest – March 4, 2018

Del Mar

(10k, 5k, Kids Race)

Following the trail along Jimmy Durante Blvd,  the Coast to Crest 5k and 10k is Del Mar’s only trail race. A Sprint Course for most, the out and back course starts and finishes at the San Dieguito River park and is very flat and fast. Great for all running levels, there will also be a kids race the day of the event.

Carmel Valley 5k & Fun Run – March 11, 2018

Carmel Valley

(5k, Kids Race)

Based at the Village at Pacific Highlands Ranch the Carmel Valley 5k and Fun Run is a family friendly event in it’s 6th year.

La Jolla Half Marathon – March 22, 2018

Del Mar

(Half Marathon)

The La Jolla Half Marathon is one of America’s most picturesque point-to-point races. Part of the Half Marathon Triple Crown Series, the course starts at Del Mar Fairgrounds and follows a beautiful coastal course up to Torrey Pines Mesa, and finishes in La Jolla Cove at Ellen Browning Scripps Park. At the end of the race enjoy a festival with a live band, refreshments, beer garden and local vendors. The race has a 3 hour time limit and 100% of the net proceeds benefit the La Jolla Kiwanis Foundation. The course is fully staffed with with water and portable toilets along the way. Registered participants receive a technical fabric race shirt, keepsake cinch bag, custom finisher’s medal, complimentary beer at finish line (21+).

Carlsbad 5000 – March 24-25, 2018


(5k, 20k, Junior Race)

Part of the Rock N’ Roll Marathon Series, the Carlsbad 5000 is returning for its 33rd year in 2018! More than 40,000 participants are expected this year to enjoy the 5k or the all day 20k. In Starting in Carlsbad Village, the race is accompanied by a 2-Day Health and Wellness Expo, and the finish line will have live entertainment and a beer garden provided by Pizza Port.

On Saturday, March 24th racers 12 and under, can enjoy the Junior Carlsbad 1 Mile. Starting on Grand Avenue, the race takes the kids around Carlsbad Village.

Ironman Oceanside – April 7th, 2018


(Ironman 70.3, Kids Fun Run)

Top pros from around the world will gather in Oceanside for the Ironman 70.3. Racers will swim in Oceanside Harbor, bike up the California coastline to San Clemente and then back down through Camp Pendleton, and finish with a run along the Oceanside Strand. Because of the location, views and core of Marine volunteers, the Oceanside Ironman is a favorite. Registration includes: Tech shirt, Sling Bag, Finisher’s Medal, Finisher’s Hat, Luggage Tag, Post-Race Food, Post-Race Massage.

The event also features an Ironkids 1 Mile Fun Run (information to be updated).

XTERRA Black Mountain Trail Run – April 8, 2018

Rancho Penasquitos

(15k, 5k)

Presented by The North Face, The Black Mountain Trail Run is the 6th race in the XTERRA Runs SoCal series. The course consists of wide fire roads with some single track sections. Great for beginners and advanced athletes, Black Mountain trail is scenic, with twists, turns and a small creek crossing. Participants receive a soft cotton race t-shirt, finisher’s medal, coffee and hot breakfast (post race), and entry into a raffle.

Your Turn…

Do you know of any missing races that should be included in this guide? Contact us here or comment below.

Photo Credit: Surfing Madonna Beach Run

Drea Colores: Drea Colores grew up in Tucson, AZ and now lives in Carlsbad. Writer + Maker + Photographer. IG: dreacolores